If you can reheat leftovers or boil water, you can make simple syrup (If you can’t do either of the above, we can work on that together!). Equal-parts granulated sugar and water, it might be the least complicated recipe available in your cooking (and drinking) arsenal. Just don’t let the simplicity fool you, its role in your favorite cocktails and beverages is key.
Personally, I make simple syrup for my cold brew ice coffee, fresh squeezed lemonade, and to fill my hummingbird feeders throughout these hot summer months. I love watching the birds as I sip my coffee first thing in the morning.
Shall we started learning how to make simple syrup at home?
Let’s Talk Ratios
Typically, we find simple syrup in two concentrations. The first being equal parts sugar and water, otherwise known and referred to as one-to-one (1:1). This version is most common within the United States. The second is two parts sugar to one part water, known as two-to-one (2:1). 2:1 is the U.K. standard in bars.
Quick Hint: If you are in the U.S. and want the 2:1 ratio in your drink, ask the bartender for “rich simple syrup.” If they have it available they will be more than happy to oblige!
Weighing the Ingredients
When it comes to weighing your ingredients, the method depends on what you are comfortable within your kitchen and how accurate you would like to be. You can measure the ingredients for your simple syrup by volume (measuring cup) or by weight (scale). The volume method is definitely the quickest and easiest, and the most common within the U.S. With a measuring cup, combine 1 cup of sugar and 1 cup of water. Easy, right?
But, a little food for thought: the volume method is not completely accurate. 1 cup of water is equivalent to 8 fluid ounces. On the other hand, 1 cup of sugar when weighed is between 6 to 7 fluid ounces. Therefore, the ratio is actually closer to ⅞:1 than 1:1. If you want to be completely accurate, I recommend getting your scale out and measuring it precisely. Yes, it takes a bit more time and effort to get out the scale, tare it to 0, and weigh out 8 ounces of sugar and 8 ounces of water, but if you are persnickety like me it is the way to go.
Dissolving the Sugar in the Water
So, now that the ingredients are measured out, it is now a question of how to make simple syrup. To make the simple syrup you must actually dissolve the sugar into the water. Once again, there are two methods you can choose between: the hot method and the cold method. Either method works and is up to personal discretion.
The Hot Simple Syrup Method
The hot method involves heating the sugar and water gently while stirring to dissolve the sugar. Once all of the sugar is dissolved, remove from heat and let the syrup cool. DO NOT let the syrup boil while using this method. If you do, the water will evaporate and change the ratio.
REMEMBER: When jarring something that will be stored for a long time, always sterilize the container. This way, harmful bacteria will be less likely to creep into the container. To sterilize your jar, bring a pot of water to a boil, carefully lower the jar and its lid into the water with tongs. After a few minutes (5 to 10), remove the jar from the boiling water. Place on a clean dish towel and leave to cool.
The jar should be completely cool before placing anything in it or storing it in the refrigerator. Glass shatters with extreme changes in temperature. You don’t want sticky simple syrup or glass all over your kitchen!!!
The Cold Simple Syrup Method
The cold method involves you making simple syrup without heating the water. Using room-temperature water, stir or shake the container until you have dissolved all of the sugar. This is NOT my preferred method and I find that it takes forever, but you will sometimes hear a bartender (though not often) claiming it tastes better. If you choose this method, carve out a bit more time as it takes longer to make.
Simple Syrup Storage
When prepared and stored properly, simple syrup has an excellent shelf life. Think of preserves such as jams and jellies: we use sugar to help keep those products on the shelf. This is because sugar acts as a preservative. The sugar in the simple syrup is doing the exact same thing.
If you used the hot method to make simple syrup and if you store it in the refrigerator, simple syrup can last for a decent amount of time. With the 1:1 ratio, simple syrup can last up to a month and can last up to 6 months for the 2:1 ratio version. Throw it out immediately if you see any discoloration or growth.
The cold method versions spoil much more quickly, so keep an eye on it. You don’t want rancid simple syrup!!!
There you have it: information about the ratios, an explanation on how to make simple syrup, and tips on how to store your newly made syrup! I told you it was easy!!!
A Few More Tips
- Simple syrup will take on the flavors of the water used because water makes up half the ingredients. It is important to have fresh and filtered water!
- The higher the sugar content the longer the shelf life. Remember the preservatives! So, if you are making a large batch meant to last a long time, I recommend the 2:1 ratio!
- When making simple syrup, it takes on the flavor of what you are cooking with. Try adding some flavors: jalapeno to make a nice and spicy cocktail, rosemary for a bit of a savory taste, fruit and veggies, etc. etc. etc. Have fun and experiment!!!
- If you do infusions of flavors, make sure to start with a lower temperature and shorter time. The higher the temperature and longer in the sugar mixture, the stronger the flavor. This can be good, but can also lead to inedible and strong flavors. Play around with it!
- Bottoms Up and Enjoy!
How to Use Excess Simple Syrup Quickly: Hummingbird Feeders!
If you made too much or want to start feeding hummingbirds, slightly water down the excess simple syrup to put into feeders. There are many different feeder options on Amazon such as these: Option 1, Option 2, Option 3, or Option 4. Or, if you are in the United States, you can shop at chains such as Lowes and The Home Depot. I also recommend shopping at local outdoor garden suppliers. Honestly, there is nothing more enjoyable than watching the birds buzz around your head as you sip on your coffee, lemonade, cocktail, etc. Our new dutch shepherd mix puppy also enjoys watching these birds when my husband and I are working!
If you do choose to buy a hummingbird feeder, make sure to order one that is red. Hummingbirds are attracted to that color and will soon start flying around your feeder all day long! Though you will see lots of information about red dye on the internet for hummingbirds, I do not think it is necessary to add dye to your simple syrup. I have not had any problems attracting hummingbirds to my feeders and, in my opinion, if food coloring is not the healthiest for humans, it probably isn’t that healthy for your birds as well.
It is easy to care for hummingbirds! Every few days, switch out the sugary water you have made. Remember that simple syrup spoils, so you don’t want your hummingbirds to eat bad syrup either! Also, make sure to clean the feeders as you do not want mold or mildew growing.
Note: Your hummingbirds will become dependent on you and come back every year to visit during the spring, summer, and fall months. Don’t be startled when they disappear during the winter as they migrate south!
Let Us Know What You Think!
We hope you enjoy using simple syrup in your different beverages! For now, please comment below to let us know if you have any questions and to tell us all about your favorite beverages and cocktails using simple syrup!
You can also say hello and follow the cutest new member of our family, Miso, on her doggy instagram!
Below are a few photos of our hummingbirds on a rainy day…
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